Student directs theatrical production at MHS – Saturday show called ‘A Night on Broadway’

A group of people posing for the camera - Modern dance
Pictured is part of the cast of ‘A Night on Broadway.’ The curtain goes up at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 16 on the first ever student-directed show at Marathon High School. Director Xavier McKnight, on the right side in the blue vest, is also performing in three of the numbers. Pictured with him are Nicole Lera, left standing, Jisette Rodriguez, Syndey Schuhmacher, Zach Perry, Zoe Voelliger, Natalie Ehrig, Claire McCarthy, Hannah Gracy, John Galjanic, Ariana Patterson; bottom row: Jessica Mojica, Raven Banks, and Alex Pabon.

A “Night on Broadway” features 16 numbers, about 40 cast and crew members and — for the first time — a student director. Xavier McKnight is running the show on Saturday, Nov. 16 at the Marathon High School auditorium. He said it’s a goal he’s been harboring for at least a year.

The evening opens with a big circus, tumbling and dancing number. From there, actors and vocalists will perform songs from “Wicked,” “Chicago,” and “Rent.” Some of the numbers are funny, others are tearjerkers, Xavier said.

As student director, it was up to Xavier to choose the pieces and develop a schedule of rehearsals. He also recruited and auditioned his friends, including a few adults, to perform. He’s even handled the publicity — passing out fliers and using social media to get the word out.

Zach Perry only had positive things to say about Xavier’s direction.

“He planned out every single rehearsal,” Perry said. His friend, John Galjanic chimed in, “We never wasted a single rehearsal. He’s very organized and he knew what he wanted us to do before we even showed up.”

Hannah Gracy said, “He’s a very good director.”

Her dad, Marathon High School principal Hammond Gracy, said it’s been a perfect exercise in project learning.

“This is the real type of work they should be doing in schools,” Gracy said. “With a project like Xavier’s, students own the learning, students own the outcomes. Project-based learning is the best way to learn.”

Plus, it’s a nice treat for the town of Marathon, too.

The show starts at 7 p.m. Admission is $5.

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Sara Matthis thinks community journalism is important, but not serious; likes weird and wonderful children (she has two); and occasionally tortures herself with sprint-distance triathlons, but only if she has a good chance of beating her sister.